Steep cutting strengthened on Portsmouth line

The Portsmouth Direct Line was closed from Monday July 24-Friday July 28, to allow the latest element of a £100 million, three-year upgrade. 

Unreliable signalling is being replaced, and cutting sides strengthened to reduce the risk of landslips. 

North of Witley station (between Haslemere and Godalming), rows of eight-metre-long steel ‘nails’ were driven into the sides of a steep cutting which had shown signs of sliding onto the track last winter. 

Project Manager Hannah Ward said: “We are preventing the rest of the material from reaching the track. That could have caused speed restrictions or train derailments. The nails help to pin and strengthen the soil.” 

With the line closed for five days, Network Rail carried out 15 separate projects through the blockade, including foundations for new signals. 

The most important task is doing away with signalling that dates from the 1970s. A lever-operated signal box at Haslemere will close, with control transferred to the signalling centre at Basingstoke. “Performance on this line is significantly impacted during the wet season,” said Tom McNamee, infrastructure director for Network Rail’s Wessex region. 

“Our old signalling cables get waterlogged. We have embankments on this route that have earthwork failures. Brand new cables, and embankments that actually stay in place, will obviously deliver a big improvement.” 

Read this article in full in RAIL issue 989 here

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